I’m sure if any of you have perused in an Anime forum or Facebook group you have heard the term “Waifu.” And for the uninitiated, a Waifu is a term used by the otaku/weeaboo fandom to refer to a female anime character in an endearing way. But it seems that even though it’s a term so commonly used, there is still much confusion and debate over what the term actually means. So I think its worth trying to get a concrete view on what the term means. I’m also interested in the origin of the word itself and how it’s meaning and relation to the Anime fandom has changed since its inception. And by the end of this maybe you’ll have a little more knowledge on the term and even may want to adopt a waifu for yourself.
Everything seems to stem from 4chan
Unlike the derogatory term “Weeaboo”, Waifu was actually something that was actually a legit term, founded in the 2002 anime Azumanga Daioh. The context of the scene was one of the male teachers referring to a picture he had dropped in his wallet and referred to her as “my wife”. Though that was the translation, people took the japanese pronunciation and exaggerated it into “mai waifu”. The term scuttled around 4chan’s /a/ (anime & manga board) being used by both anime fans and trolls. The trolls would use it as flame bait to mock the obsessive nature of anime fans and the animated females that they so idolized. However when it was used in a mocking manner it was most often tongue in cheek. But of course there were people who stole the term for themselves and branded it as only a term to ridicule anime fans who admired certain female anime characters in a more than platonic manner. And while there is some evidence to support this stigmata for the term, it is more often than not used in a more light and playful manner.
And fast forward to today, where it has grown to mean anything from “the best girl from an anime” to a girl in certain anime you would want to be in a relationship with. And since all these different meanings and what to do with a waifu was unclear for a long time, 4chan made a waifu cheat sheet for the newly initiated which can be seen here.
How do people see the term today
So after i’ve found out that basically the term waifu can mean a plethora of things I thought that I would just ask people what they thought. And seeing that I am a member of quite a diverse amount of Facebook groups that are anime related I thought that I would inquire to both new fans and veterans on what they think the term waifu means to them.
From these results, I can gather that while there is a little resentment towards the word, most people accept it as a less than harmless term. Some people even embrace it and have waifu’s and husbando’s of their own. But alas there were many people who liked these posts and yet didn’t comment their thoughts and I found that very interesting. Maybe there are people out there who embrace the term, but don’t like having that known to the public. Or maybe they just didn’t have time to write out a response, and instead hit the like button for support. Either way the opinion of waifu is still diverse but the majority seem to see it as either harmless or tongue in cheek.
taking it to an unhealthy extreme
Now while most people can go about their daily live while having waifu’s, there are some who take it to an unhealthy extreme. Where they blur the line between reality and fiction. They start to treat waifu’s like real people and stop looking for intimate relationships with real people. While this is somewhat understandable to see the luxuries of having a fantasy girlfriend/boyfriend, it certainly is not healthy to think of someone who is not real as real. It’s an unfortunate case of delusion that requires mental help. Cases from people making dinners, holding birthdays, and even going out on dates with their waifus have all been documented. While on these outings they will usually have a physical representation of their waifu in the form of a pillow, plushie, or even an application on a phone.
My views on Waifu
I’m okay with the term for the most part. I do not like when people use it in a derogatory term to hurt someones feelings, but there will always be people like that. But for the people who enjoy a character from an anime so much that they like to buy merchandise or set a picture for their phone wallpaper, that’s perfectly fine by me. You know what, I’d even say masturbating to a certain character is okay too. To me its the same as liking something and wanting to discover every aspect of it. But in this case it’s a specific character in a show, and if they influence your life in a positive way, its a win-win. And if you were wondering if I have a waifu I’ll set your mind at ease right now… I do in fact, its Sheryl Nome from Macross Frontier. And not only is she my waifu but one of my most favorite anime characters of all time.
Waifu and you
So in the end, maybe there is no concrete definition of waifu. Maybe its whatever people need it to be, kinda like batman or something. So while I think that there are commonly used definitions that you can equate to the word, I also think thats its important to know what definition someone is using when they are using the term waifu. And if your comfortable with one of those definitions and having a waifu doesn’t sound all that bad, go out and get one. After all there are tons of Anime to chose from, with new shows coming out every season, so its safe to say there are a lot to choose from. And don’t be afraid to ditch your waifu for a new model that seems more enticing as time goes on. After all, life is short and there’s no point in keeping faithful to a fictional character. Like my friend Weston says, “Waifu’s are a dime a dozen nowadays”. But if you don’t think that having a waifu is your thing, that’s perfectly okay as well. After all whether or not we have a waifu or not doesn’t change the fact that we all like anime. And at the end of the day we can find fellowship in that.